Dr. Cecilia Costiniuk.

Dr. Cecilia Costiniuk is co-principal investigator in a new national study called HIVCOV, conducted by the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN) and a large team of co-investigators and collaborators from across Canada, that will assess the immune responses, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination for this vulnerable population. HIVCOV is part of a larger $2.6 million project — COVAXHIV — funded in large part by the Government of Canada through its COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) and Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group. Additional support has been provided by the CTN, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and Stop the Spread Ottawa. The HIVCOV team will recruit 400 people living with HIV from clinics in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver. Over the year-long study period, their blood samples will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies and other markers of immune function before and after vaccination. This information will be compared to a control group of 100 people who do not have HIV.

At the current time, we don’t completely understand how HIV itself impacts the immune response to COVID-19 vaccination. Past experience has taught us that many people living with HIV do not have as robust an immune response to many common vaccines when compared to people who do not have HIV infection. —Dr. Cecilia Costiniuk

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